Go - to - Risotto
If you’re a recipe stickler, this one is going to drive you crazy. Risotto is one of those dishes you just have to try a few time yourself, to teach yourself the moves and sounds and smells and textures. This is a guide map, but kind of a rough and tattered one. Try it for the first time when the stakes are low. This is not something you want to try for the first time for fussy guests or in-laws. Try this one in an empty house on a rainy night. Put on an album you love, open the wine, and give it a shot. Once you’ve tasted it, seen it smelled it along the way, then you’re in business, and you can make it for every your trickiest guest. I’ve made it for everyone I know, I think, and it’s always a hit—that perfect blend of comforting and fancy all in one bowl.
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by putting 6 cups of chicken broth in a small pot over low heat to warm up and then chop the onions-not a fine chop—just so they’re slender and bite-able.
- Let a thin layer—not too thin, but not a pool—of olive oil heat up in a dutch oven or stockpot, and then add the onions. Let them soften on medium to medium-low for five minutes or so while you press four cloves of garlic.
- I’ve had a garlic press for years, and just learned from my friend Matt that you don’t actually need to peel the cloves before smashing them through the press—so good to know. So I press four cloves of garlic and drop them in the pan with the warm oil. Then I give it maybe three more minutes, till the onions are translucent and the garlic smell fills the house.
- When the garlic and onion smell fantastic, throw in the arborio rice. The rice sizzles and pops in the oil for a while, so stir, stir, stir, and then when it seems to be coated throughly, add in a big glassful of wine, and stir, stir, stir. Wooden spoon, by the way.
- The wine will release a fantastic smell. Give it little time to soften, and then when the wine is absorbed, add a cup of warmed broth and again stir, stir, stir.
- Basically, at this point, you’re trying to keep it from drowning, and keep it from drying out. So add a little bit more broth, stir a little bit more; feel free to turn down the heat if it feels a little out of control. Not aggressive boiling, not lazy simmering. Remember the sinkholes. Keep adding broth cup by cup. Stir every few minutes.
- Every recipe I’ve read says 18 to 20 minutes from this point, but to be honest, it always takes me longer—more like 30 to 35 minutes. Keep tasting along the way, and when you’ve added 6-ish cups of broth and when the rice feels soft at first but still with a bite in the middle, you’re there.
- I think some people may get into trouble with risotto because they expect there to be no gritty hardness at the center of each grain, so they overcook by a long shot. As long as you know there will alway be that hard little center, you won’t overcook.
- While you’re watching, stirring, and adding stock from time to time, you can dream about what you’d like to throw in at the end.
- One great option: slice up a whole bunch of mushrooms—as many kinds as you like—and soften them in a tablespoon or so of butter. When they’re soft, pour in some cognac or white wine and cook just a little longer. When the risotto is cooked, stir in the mushrooms and their yummy juices from the pan.
- Just two more things to throw in at this point: first, Parmesan cheese—a handful mixed in, and a small handful to throw onto right at the end. Finish with a couple rough grinds of black pepper, and there you go.
Serves: 4 to 6
Risotto is one of those dishes you just have to try a few time yourself, to teach yourself the moves and sounds and smells and textures.
Basically, at this point, you’re trying to keep it from drowning, and keep it from drying out.
Not aggressive boiling, not lazy simmering.